Our friend Steve Sturgess says a New Mexico-based trucking fleet has been getting remarkable service out of its retreaded tires and fuel economy by paying attention to aerodynamics and tire care, including a technology called Tire Lyna. Steve’s report:
Mesilla Valley Transportation, or MVT as they call it, is a stand-out fleet, one of the largest in New Mexico and West Texas. It’s just a stone’s throw from historic Old Mesilla, a particularly noteworthy monument to the pioneering west.
MVT itself is a pioneer in many ways. It probably has the best fleet fuel mileage of any trucking operation in North America.
You may have seen their bright blue International Prostars on the highway. They’re very distinctive with wide single tires on tractor and trailer, full trailer skirts and aerodynamic wheel covers and, most recently, boat-tail extensions to the rear of the trailers. What you don’t see is that these tractors have a 6×2 drive configuration and tall, tall 2.50 gearing in the Meritor drive axle.
A 6×2 is not popular with the mainstream and I asked Jimmy Ray, the co-founder and equipment guru of this dry freight carrier, if it was hard to sell the trucks used. “Not round here,” he said. These trucks will get 8 mpg for any driver so there’s a line of buyers waiting for them.”
MVT is a thoughtfully run fleet that likely has a fleet average fuel economy into the 9s. (They are very guarded as to the actual number as it is part of their competitive advantage.) And their Driver of the Year for 2011 scored better than 11 mpg for the year.
One extremely interesting nugget came out of the conversation with Jimmy (can’t call him by his last name as he is as “Aw shucks” as you can get) is that the carrier has two Ventech Pneuscan tire pressure monitors, one at each of its two terminals.
This is an interesting technology I first saw introduced at the MidAmerica Trucking show two years ago. Basically, it’s a scanner that looks at the footprint of every tire as it rolls across an in-pavement strip. From the profile of the footprint, the Pneuscan gives a very accurate assessment of the tire pressure. Jimmy says in the first year, they scanned 600,000 tires. Of course, MVT trucks and trailers run on ultra-low profile singles, but the technology works equally well on duals.
As an extra bonus, Pneuscan also looks at tread depth and will flag tires that are ready for recaps. It’s very smart.
And it’s worth noting that MVT also uses Tire Lyna to protect against puncture flats. Jimmy says with these technologies his tires are free compared with fleets that have to deal with road calls and other tire issues. Let me reiterate. Jimmy says MVT tires are free when all the costs are taken into account: lack of road calls, no tire-related delivery service failures and the fuel savings that the super-wide tires give them. Their rubber is effectively free. And given that tires are the number one equipment maintenance cost, it’s not just remarkable, it’s an insight into how well this fleet is run.